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HER Number:MDV1719
Name:St Mary's Parish Church, Bratton Clovelly


St Mary's parish church in Bratton Clovelly built in the 14th century with earlier features and later additions and restoration


Grid Reference:SX 463 918
Map Sheet:SX49SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBratton Clovelly
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBRATTON CLOVELLY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 5369
  • National Monuments Record: 438286
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX49SE/7
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 94275

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (XIII to XIV - 1300 AD to 1400 AD (Between))

Full description

White, 1878, Untitled Source (Monograph). SDV5814.

Kelly's Directories Limited, 1902-1906, Untitled Source (Monograph). SDV343755.

Cresswell, B. F., 1918-1919, Sepulchral Slabs with Crosses in Devon Churches, 1-9 (Article in Serial). SDV7613.

Brief reference to a sepulchral slab with a cross in the church.

Unknown, 1919, Untitled Source, 213-4 (Article in Serial). SDV344059.

Other details: Photograph.

Cresswell, B. F., 1920, The Fabric and Features of Interest in the Churches of the Deanery of Okehampton (Un-published). SDV344056.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon (Monograph). SDV336196.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 345 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Parish church of St. Mary. Almost entirely of late 14th century date. Traditional date of completion 1375.

Copeland, G. W., 1966, Proceedings at the 104th Annual Meeting, 30-1 (Article in Serial). SDV266064.

Tower chief feature. Nave arcades usually lofty - height enhanced by lowering of floor level. West tower apparently designed as a central tower to form nucleus of important building, but project not carried out. The present nave is therefore the chancel, or site of the chancel of a much larger church. Present chancel is an addition of probably early 14th century. Nave aisles were added in 15th century. The lofty tower arch has 12th century bases to its jambs, and south of the tower is a narrow aisle in the wall of which is an early arch into the tower basement. Lower stages of tower and west wall of south aisle are apparently of late 12th- early 13th century. Small window of this date in the west wall of the aisle. On external north wall of the tower is a large blocked pointed early arch, over which is a roofline, suggesting that a north transept may have been built and subsequently removed. Wall paintings covered most of the walls, some traces left on the north wall of north aisle, figures of apostles, prophets, evangelists, a text and scrollwork. Paintings dated to mid 17th century. Late Norman font of Cornish pattern, small replica of that in Newport church, Launceston. Part of base of the old rood screen and some old painted glass have survived. There are ancient carved bosses on the old roofs of nave and aisles.

Rouse, E. C., 1966, Wall Paintings in Bratton Clovelly Church, 279-81 (Article in Serial). SDV344055.

Department of Environment, 1987, Bratton Clovelly, 24-6 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV344054.

Mainly mid to late 14th century although chancel may be earlier. Porch probably 15th century. Norman font and many other features.

Griffith, F. M., 1987, DAP/JD, 2-3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV344060.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 205-6 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Passmore, A. J., 2007, An Archaeological Watching Brief at The Garden, Bratton Clovelly, 1 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV344061.

The 14th century parish church of Bratton Clovelly has a Saxon charter dating to circa AD1050.

National Monuments Record, 2010, 438286 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV344057.

Other details: SX49SE8.

English Heritage, 2010, Historic Houses Register (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV154869.

Church of St Mary in Bratton Clovelly was Listed on 22nd February 1967. Parish Church built mainly in the mid to late 14th century although the chancel may be earlier and the porch probably early 15th century; various repairs made in 19th century and restored in 1891-2. Built of granite and slate rubble walls with granite dressings, tower is constructed of coursed dressed granite blocks of irregular sizes. Gable ended slate roof to nave chancel and porch, flat roof to south aisle and leanto roof to north aisle. Present plan is nave, chancel, west tower, north and south aisles, the south aisle extending as far as the west side of the tower, south porch and vestry to south side of tower. The earliest feature of the church is the late Norman font; it has been suggested that the base of the tower and the square bases of the arcade piers are also Norman but there is no direct evidence for this. The chancel does, however, have the appearance of being earlier than the nave and aisles from its far more modest proportions and slightly earlier window type - circa early 14th century. In 1335 or 6 the patronage of the church was transferred to Bishop Grandisson of Exeter and it is likely that he initiated a major rebuild of the church to lofty proportions with a nave and two aisles of comparable dates from the evidence of the arcades. There is evidence, however, that originally this rebuild was envisaged on a larger and more ambitious scale with transepts and possibly an extension of the nave to the west of the tower. This is suggested by a blocked arch visible externally on the north side of the tower and an arch inside the tower on the south side dividing it from the aisle; there is no west doorway and although no comparable arch can be seen on the west side of the tower it appears externally that some blocking has taken place where one might have been expected. The south porch was added in the early 15th century. Internally the church was enhanced by wall paintings which appear to date mainly from the circa early 17th century although some might be Medieval. The lean-to to the north of the tower incorporates some 14th century features but is more likely to be 19th century re-using earlier material. Numerous repairs were made in the 19th century (detailed in the church guide) and White's Directory of 1818 relates the windows as having been lately restored and half the church reseated; a thorough restoration took place 1891-2. Three-stage unbuttressed battlemented tower without pinnacles. Two-light belfry openings with arched heads to lights. Single lancet on second stage of south side. There is no west doorway and the west wall of the tower has three buttresses against its lowest stage. Also on this stage the dressed granite is interrupted at the centre by random rubble which is roughly in the outline of a tall arch. Small two-light window with Decorated tracery is probably a 19th century restoration. The tower has a square stair turret on its north-west corner, the last stage of which is octagonal and rises higher than the tower. On the north wall of the tower, extending half way up the first stage is a blocked arch with the outline of a gable roof above it. Built in front of it is a small leanto which reuses a 14th century ogee-headed stone doorway with a similar narrow one-light window to its right. The north aisle has three late Decorated three-light windows with reticulated tracery which dates probably from the 19th century restoration. The hoodmoulds of the central and western windows incorporate carved stone masks which may have been re-used from the Norman church. The western window has been reduced in length for the insertion below of a probably 16th century granite four-centred arched doorway with roll moulding. At the west end of the aisle against its north wall is the springing of half an arch and there is also the trace here of a wall projecting to the north perhaps originally intended as the foundation for the transept. The aisle has a chamfered plinth and intermediate buttresses with a diagonal one at the east corner. Its east window is similar to the others. The chancel has two windows on either side which are two-light cusped lancets with a quatrefoil above - circa early 14th century in style but probably restored. The east window is three-light with similar style tracery to those of the aisles although slightly more elaborate. Between the two south windows of the chancel is a probably late 14th century stone doorway with pointed arch in rebated chamfered surround and with moulded arched hoodmould. The south aisle is battlemented and to the east of the porch has two tall restored windows in similar style to the north aisle. The window to the west of the porch is two-light and slightly later in style with cinquefoil heads to the lights and quatrefoil above. The aisle has intermediate buttresses and a diagonal one at the east corner. At its west end is a pentagonal stair turret set on the corner. The west end wall of the aisle contains a lancet window which may have been re-used from the earlier fabric. The single storey south porch is faced with granite ashlar with a four-centred arched granite doorway which has double hollow and roll moulding, carved spandrels and a heavy hoodmould. Good interior: The south porch retains its original wagon roof with ribs and principals carved with running leaf motif and decorative carved bosses. Holy Water stoup has arched opening and projecting bowl. The south doorway is of granite with a round-headed arch, hollow roll and hollow moulding and carved spandrels. Heavy studded oak door of overlapping planks with moulded edges is probably 17th century. Three-bay arcades of Polyphant stone with Pevsner B-type piers which have crenellated moulded square capitals. The moulded bases rest on rough square bases which it has been suggested were the columns of an earlier church; this cannot be proved and the only definite explanation that can be given is of a change or projected change in the floor level. Tall four-centred arches to the arcades in which the moulding of the piers is extended; similar chancel arch. The very tall tower arch has moulded piers with high carved capitals and cushion stops. A double-chamfered pointed arch on plain responds connects the tower and south aisle. Surprisingly, however, it is not exactly in line with the blocked arch on the north side of the tower. The windows have chamfered rear arches, which to the north aisle incorporate carved stone masks similar to those on the outside of the window frames. Pointed arched doorway to the rood stairs through which there is a squint to the chancel from the south aisle. There are extensive remains of wall paintings to the north and south aisles which are in the process of being restored. That on the north wall portrays a number of almost life-size figures probably representing the twelve apostles. Other sections of painting depict soldiers and an officer wearing armour and there are various panels of Biblical text which are bordered by stylized floral and architectural devices. The style of the armour and nature of the texts suggests an early 17th century date but earlier work could well be incorporated and more may be uncovered. The nave has a saddle roof, the principal rafters are moulded and extend partly down the walls to rest on corbels. The ribs are also moulded and at the intersections are large bosses ornately carved in the design of four petal flowers : all but two of these however are replacements. The wall-plates are carved and have flat bosses on them. The aisles have flat panelled roofs and the chancel has a wagon roof which is now completely plastered over. Two sections of panelling survive from the 15th century rood screen which show signs of painting although this is likely to be restored colour. The bench ends are all late 19th century. The late Norman font is of Tintagel stone, square with marks at the corners and each side carved with a star surmounted by a two-headed dragon. Short stout octagonal shaft. (Another very similar exists at Jacobstow, North Cornwall). Three floor memorials survive at the east end of the nave, all with border inscriptions with the dates 1603 and 1635 legible on two but otherwise much worn. The only old glass that survives is now in the vestry having been moved twice but originating in the south-east window and bearing the arms of the Burnby family who were important landowners in the Late Medieval times. The stained glass filling the other windows dates from the late 19th century and commemorates members of the Manning family of whom Elizabeth Manning was Lady of the Manor in the late 19th century and a great benefactor of the church. This church raises interesting questions as to its projected plan in the 14th century, which, if carried out as was originally apparently intended, would have made it remarkably grand for such a small and remote village. The further importance of the building lies in the preservation of much Medieval structure enhanced by the remarkable survival of a large amount of wall paintings. Sources : Pevsner - "Buildings of North Devon : Beatrix Cresswell - Churches in the Deanery of Okehampton : Church Guide ; White's Directory of 1878 and Kelly's Directory of 1902. Other details: LBS Number 94275.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV154869List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2010. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 345.
SDV266064Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1966. Proceedings at the 104th Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 98. A5 Paperback. 30-1.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 205-6.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume.
SDV343755Monograph: Kelly's Directories Limited. 1902-1906. Kelly's Directory of Devon. Unknown.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #82014 ]
SDV344054List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Bratton Clovelly. Historic Houses Register. A4 Spiral Bound. 24-6.
SDV344055Article in Serial: Rouse, E. C.. 1966. Wall Paintings in Bratton Clovelly Church. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 98. A5 Paperback. 279-81.
SDV344056Un-published: Cresswell, B. F.. 1920. The Fabric and Features of Interest in the Churches of the Deanery of Okehampton. Unknown. Manuscript.
SDV344057National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2010. 438286. National Monuments Record Index. Website.
SDV344059Article in Serial: Unknown. 1919. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 51. A5 Hardback. 213-4.
SDV344060Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1987. DAP/JD. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2-3.
SDV344061Report - Watching Brief: Passmore, A. J.. 2007. An Archaeological Watching Brief at The Garden, Bratton Clovelly. Exeter Archaeology Report. 07.03. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1.
SDV5814Monograph: White. 1878. White's Directory. Unknown.
SDV7613Article in Serial: Cresswell, B. F.. 1918-1919. Sepulchral Slabs with Crosses in Devon Churches. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 10.1. Unknown. 1-9.

Associated Monuments

MDV1722Parent of: Medieval Rood Screen at St Mary's Parish Church, Bratton Clovelly (Building)
MDV1721Parent of: Norman Font at St Mary's Parish Church, Bratton Clovelly (Building)
MDV5536Parent of: Wall Painting at St Mary's Parish Church, Bratton Clovelly (Building)
MDV30452Related to: Gate and Gate Piers at St Mary's Parish Church, Bratton Clovelly (Building)
MDV1720Related to: Mound at St Mary's Parish Church, Bratton Clovelly (Monument)
MDV30369Related to: Village Hall, Bratton Clovelly (Building)
MDV30453Related to: Williams Tomb in St Mary's Churchyard, Bratton Clovelly (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4579 - Watching Brief at The Gardens, Bratton Clovelly

Date Last Edited:Dec 14 2017 1:36PM